Friday, January 8, 2010

The Larger Story: Encouraging a man to commit

I think that all of us single men who have been desired by a woman at some point have faced the question: "Will he commit [to marriage]?" I understand that, completely.

So, for those of you single women who are involved or want to be, here's a little tip. Just follow the "Golden Rule" -- "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."

In other words, if you want him to commit to you, you need to commit to him.

Now, that's a little more problematic than it sounds. It's more than simply cooking his favorite meals and accepting his friends, family and faults, though those certainly help. You see -- and this is especially the case for Christians -- a man needs to know that his woman is behind him.

So why do I say this? Well, the most important thing for a man is understanding his vision and finding his ultimate purpose on this earth, and a man who doesn't have one simply isn't worth a woman's time as it is -- and I'm not just talking about making a lot of money, either. So, frankly, she should ask him what that is and what steps he has taken toward it. If it seems plausible and reasonable, she can proceed.

Basically, it's what John Eldredge calls the Larger Story. All such relationships have to have an overall context or theme; when God calls a couple together it's always for a specific reason. Some are called to pastor churches; others to the mission field; others do music together. And that theme is what will keep the marriage together when things threaten to fall apart (as things eventually will).

But what if that "vision" doesn't square with your hopes and plans? Well, you have a choice to make -- either bend to that or leave the relationship. That may sound cruel, but it really is the best way because the man does have the responsibility of being the leader of the family.

I know that from painful experience. My last girlfriend, who occasionally complained about my unwillingness to "commit," nevertheless pretty much planned out our entire future together but without even once asking me where I felt God was leading -- and, in retrospect, it completely conflicted with her agenda. Most importantly, she expected me to attend her church, which God Himself told me from the outset not to do, giving me three specific confirmations in the process. Eventually, I had to leave when she refused to listen. (And she's probably still resentful toward me, even after over eight years -- proof that breaking it off was indeed the right thing.)

My late stepfather was a man who knew who he was, what he was about and where he was going (well, not so much the last because he retired just before he married my mother). That's the kind of man that every woman needs and every man needs to be, because a man who cannot commit to his Larger Story has no business committing to a woman.

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